On the Shelf

The Magazine publishes a selection of general-interest books by alumni authors. For additional alumni books, see “In Their Own Words” at magazine.uchicago.edu/books.

Errands into the Metropolis: New England Dissidents in Revolutionary London, by Jonathan Beecher Field, AM’93, PhD’04, Dartmouth College Press, 2009. Focusing on early colonial literature, Field contextualizes the fight for space and religious tolerance in the American colonies. He shows competing groups—including marginal religious sects like the Quakers—constructing narratives of their colonial experiences and taking them back to metropolitan London to contend for colonial power. 

Barron’s American Slang, by Mary Elizabeth, AB’77, Barron’s, 2009. Confuddled by how blabbermouths jabber nowadays? Meant for both native and non-native English speakers, this reference guide to U.S. lingo includes definitions, pronunciations, word origins, and usage information. The thesaurus section is split into topic-based chapters such as “Types of People”—some alternatives for cowardly, for example, are candy-ass, fraidy cat, and lily liver. Non-slang synonyms after each category further elaborate relationships among words.

Cancer in the Lives of Older Americans: Blessings and Battles, by Sarah H. Kagan, AB’84, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009. Even though more than one-third of cancer cases affect people over age 75, this age group often receives fewer treatments and alternatives than younger patients. But the elderly, argues Kagan, a nurse for more than 20 years, usually tolerate treatment just as well. Following the experience of one woman in her 80s diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the book also uses research and case studies to illustrate the cancer experience in older adults.

Make Room for Daddy: The Journey from Waiting Room to Birthing Room, by Judith Walzer Leavitt, MAT’65, AM’66, PhD’75, University of North Carolina Press, 2009. In the 1940s expectant fathers would sit in a hospital waiting room, far from the action, and nervously await news of their new son or daughter. By the 1980s, however, most hospitals allowed fathers into the delivery rooms. Historian Leavitt traces the increasing involvement of fathers in the childbirth process through personal letters and interviews, as well as hospital archives and popular culture.

A Lawyer in Indian Country: A Memoir, by Alvin Ziontz, JD’51, University of Washington Press, 2009. Representing the legal interests of Indian tribes for more than 30 years, Ziontz was a close party to the evolution of American Indian governments, the conflicts between Indian and non-Indian society, and the court cases that affected tribal rights across the country. In this memoir, Ziontz recalls his work throughout the Northwest and his personal experiences in tribal life.

Composing the Citizen: Music as Public Utility in Third Republic France, by Jann Pasler, AM’74, PhD’81, University of California Press, 2009. In this broad survey of late 19th- through early 20th-century France, Pasler examines music as a vital aspect of life in the years after the Franco-Prussian War. Music became a tool to unite the country, redefine French republican values and identity, and help the people—elites and the masses alike—imagine a shared future. 

Until the Last Man Comes Home: POWs, MIAs, and the Unending Vietnam War, by Michael J. Allen, AB’96, University of North Carolina Press, 2009. Examining the lasting effects of the Vietnam War, Allen identifies POW/MIA families and activists as a small but ultimately key group responsible for transforming U.S. politics. These families’ activism during the war created divisions between the United States and Vietnam and among Americans, Allen writes, ultimately sparking major changes in U.S. foreign policy.

The Specter of Sex: Gendered Foundations of Racial Formation in the United States, by Sally L. Kitch, AM’68, SUNY Press, 2009. In the late 17th century, Western gender roles were already sharply delineated. Kitch looks at how European and colonial notions of race formed and influenced gender ideology. Through references to policies, narratives, laws, and other media, she traces the racial and gender hierarchies in Europe and the colonies, examining how these patterns have continued to repeat themselves in the 200 years since.

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